The next edition of the live author interview program In-Depth on Book TV (C-SPAN2) will air Sunday, December 2nd from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. CST.  The featured author will be Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).  He is a fiscal conservative, a medical doctor, and former member of the House of Representatives.  Elected to the Senate in 2004, Coburn, who believes in self-imposed term limits, has promised not to run for reelection in 2016.  His books include The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America, Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders, and Wastebook 2011: A Guide to Some of the Most Wasteful and Low Priority Government Spending of 2011.

Speaking of Book TV, this wonderful 48 hour service, which concentrates solely on nonfiction books, begins at 7:00 a.m. CST every Saturday, and ends at 7:00 a.m. CST every Monday, except during Congressional breaks and over the holidays when it is extended.  So, since both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall on a Tuesday this year, I suspect that the Book TV programming will be extended on both weekends before those holidays.  In addition, if you have access to C-SPAN3, you can watch American History programs during the same hours that Book TV is on.

Get the exact TV schedule here a few days before the actual holidays, and check out the past programs that are archived, as well as the many other features on the homepage.

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Some years ago the East Baton Rouge Parish Library published lists of fiction books that were best sellers between the years of 1930 and 1999.  Here are three lists from 30 years apart.  Notice that Daphne du Maurier has books on two of the lists.


  1. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  2. All This, and Heaven Too by Rachel Field (also a best seller in 1938)
  3. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (also a best seller in 1938)
  4. Wickford Point by John P. Marquand
  5. Escape by Ethel Vance
  6. Disputed Passage by Lloyd C. Douglas
  7. The Yearling by Marjorie K. Rawlings (also a best seller in 1938)
  8. The Trees of Liberty by Elizabeth Page
  9. The Nazarene by Sholem Ashe
  10. Kitty Foyle by Christopher Morley (also a best seller in 1940)


  1. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  2. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  3. The Love Machine by Jacqueline Susann
  4. The Inheritors by Harold Robbins
  5. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
  6. The Seven Minutes by Irving Wallace
  7. Naked Came the Stranger by Penelope Ashe*
  8. The Promise by Chaim Potok
  9. The Pretenders by Gwen Davis
  10. The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier


  1. The Testament by John Grisham
  2. Hannibal by Thomas Harris
  3. Assassins by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
  4. Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks
  5. Timeline by Michael Crichton
  6. Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King
  7. Apollyon by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
  8. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
  9. Irresistible Forces by Danielle Steel
  10. Tara Road by Maeve Binchy

*Naked Came the Stranger was, indeed, a best seller. It was also a literary hoax as was its author, Penelope Ashe.  The book was actually written by a group of reporters (both men and women) at Newsday who wanted to see if they could out-sex, and out-trash Jacqueline Susann, Harold Robbins and other popular writers of the time.  Each of the 15 chapters was written by a different person.  Some chapters had to be altered somewhat to make the plot flow smoothly, and some had to be dumbed-down a bit because they were too well written.  The resulting novel was so successful – even after the hoax was exposed – that the instigator of the ruse, Mike McGrady, was approached about writing a sequel.  He refused the offer, though he did collaborate on the screenplay for the x-rated movie that was made from the novel in 1975.

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In the book I Wish I’d Been There, edited by Byron Hollingshead, twenty historians offer essays about events in history that they wish they could have observed.  The essays include “The Salem Witchcraft Trials” by Mary Beth Norton, “With John Brown at Harper’s Ferry” by Thomas Fleming, and “The Day Lincoln Was Shot” by Jay Winik.  In the essay entitled “The Sick Man in the White House,” Geoffrey C. Ward talks about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s health problems and his death due to a stroke.  Ward quotes the advice of Dr. Irvin S. Cutter from a daily advice column in the Chicago Tribune called “How to Keep Well.”  The advice, according to Ward, reflects the thinking about high blood pressure that was prevalent in the early 1940s:

“The chief value of learning that you have a high [blood pressure] level lies in the fact that you are likely to take more rest and spare yourself excessive effort.  Beyond this, the best thing to do is forget about it.  Making monthly trips to the doctor’s office may serve merely to keep alive a type of apprehension that is deadly.  We realize, of course, what emotions can do to us.  One who is jittery and nervous, and who carries great responsibilities, can jump the reading 30 to 40 points and not half try . . . The least we can do is not hasten [a crisis] by exhibiting undue concern.”

On a personal note to my readers: Get a thorough physical exam once a year, and immediately take care of any health issues that occur between checkups.  Too many people are dying needlessly because they refuse to go to the doctor.  The people who love you want you to stick around, and I need all the readers I can get.

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The release of the newest movie version of Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece, Anna Karenina, has prompted Indiewire to produce a list of ten other Russian novels that have been adapted for the movies.

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Joe Queenan made the following remarks in a Wall Street Journal essay entitled “My 6,128 Favorite Books” which was adapted from One for the Books.  The entire essay is well-worth reading.

“The world is changing, but I am not changing with it. There is no e-reader or Kindle in my future.  My philosophy is simple: Certain things are perfect the way they are.  The sky, the Pacific Ocean, procreation and the Goldberg Variations all fit this bill, and so do books.  Books are sublimely visceral, emotionally evocative objects that constitute a perfect delivery system.”

“Electronic books are ideal for people who value the information contained in them, or who have vision problems, or who have clutter issues, or who don’t want other people to see that they are reading books about parallel universes where nine-eyed sea serpents and blind marsupials join forces with deaf Valkyries to rescue high-strung albino virgins from the clutches of hermaphrodite centaurs, but they are useless for people engaged in an intense, lifelong love affair with books.  Books that we can touch; books that we can smell; books that we can depend on.  Books that make us believe, for however short a time, that we shall all live happily ever after.”

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Are you a book nerd?  I am and I proudly admit it.  Flavorwire has a list of 10 essential books for book nerds that will interest even those who are not self-admitted book nerds.    

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The main goal of the nonprofit Library of America is to publish the noteworthy works of American authors.  Their efforts insure that the works of many authors (some well known and some not so well remembered), and many not so well known works of popular authors like Mark Twain remain available to the public.  You can find a list of their publications at their site.

Of additional interest is a free e-mail that they send out every Sunday with a sample from one of their books.  Over the past few weeks, they have offered In the Zone by Eugene O’Neill (a one act play), “Running for Governor” by Mark Twain, “An Autumn Holiday” by Sarah Orne Jewett, three poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar (“Sign of the Times,” “Compensation” and “When Malindy Sings”), and “The Moonstone Mass” by Harriet Prescott Spofford.  You can sign up for the newsletter at their site.  You can read the current story of the week here, and you can see and read all past stories of the week (sorted by author) here.  You may also want to check out the LOA blog.

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According to a number of reports, noted author Philip Roth has decided to retire.  As you might expect, there are a lot of articles about his decision.  Below are a few of them:

The Daily Beast

Jewish Ideas Daily

New York Times

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Since some of you enjoyed the avant-garde bookcases and bookshelves in my October “Talking About Books” post, here are more.  How imaginative!


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